The concept is recurring and sounds super modern, but history points to the Nineteenth Century. The emergence of influence marketing is not tied to social media, although we automatically think about relationships built with digital influencers. Humans have had influence over other people since the beginning of times. Some for leadership, others due to their charisma.
Concept is actually pretty simple: an influencer is a person whose opinions are trusted by those who hear and / or read. Surely, companies have taken advantage of associating their brands with these people. After all, reliability represents more sales, greater awareness and better branding.
Brands and relationship with influencers
It’s quite normal to currently observe that as soon as an influencer points the product “xyz” as positive, a legion of fans will take that claim as 100% true. Consumed fact. This logic, however, has not always been so natural. Far from it. Most experts and marketing analysts point 1890 as the year of the emergence of influence marketing, i.e., this market “logic” has started making sense about 130 years ago.
The US company Randolph Truett (R. T.) Davis Milling Company is allegedly the pioneer in this regard. After acquiring the brand of pancake mix Aunt Jemima in 1890, R. T. Davis Milling hired Nancy Green as the person to represent the brand in its advertisings. But, who was Nancy Green? She was a black woman and a former slave, who was over 50 years old. Totally revolutionary for the time.
After attending an event held in Chicago in 1893, her friendly personality and such a positive view of visitors earned Green a lifetime contract with the brand. Due to the year-over-year increase in sales of pancake mix, the former slave would represent Aunt Jemima until the end of her life. From there, several other companies started to connect their brands not only with people, but also with characters. That is pointed as the first step for the organizations, towards the relationship with influencers.
The next step in the relationship with influencers
The relationship with influencers was born from Nancy Green as Aunt Jemima and went way beyond. The 1920s and 1930s saw Disney associate its brand with Mickey Mouse while Coca-Cola did it with Santa Claus. Then came Tony the Tiger, for the cornflakes company Kellogg’s, and Ronald McDonald, the clown from the fast food company McDonald’s. They have become concrete examples even for the Portuguese classes teached across Brazilian schools. These “mascots” are examples of one of the most traditional Portuguese language figure of speech, the metonymy. The part came to represent the whole. Influencers began to mingle with the brands and the products themselves.
Practical examples in Brazil? I quote only two names: Carlos Moreno and Sebastian Fonseca. The first was the pitchman for Bombril for almost 40 years. The second represented C&A for more than two decades. I bet you’ve reminded the face of both of them by only mentioning the brands’ names. And you may do the opposite way too – by seeing the faces of both of them, you’ll directly remind of the companies. The actors, by the way, were such outstanding figures that companies have even noticed a market opportunity and associated, resulting in the ad below.
Classic cases of an excellent relationship with influencers. From both the companies, which exploited their brands very well, and the public, who was represented and always waited for the next ad from these companies. Those are two mere examples, but they are far from being the only cases. What about Kaiser’s pitchman, a.k.a. “Baixinho” (or “Shorty”, in English)? What about Fabiano Augusto and his legendary catchphrase “Quer pagar quanto?” (“How much you wanna pay?”, in English) For Casas Bahia? And don’t you dare to think that this practice no longer works. If you doubt it, “pergunta lá no Posto Ipiranga” – the very catchy ad from Ipiranga, Brazilian fuel company.
Current logic on the relationship with influencers
Yet, the famous Ipiranga advertising boy is an exception these days. Brands have sought to promote their interaction into another way, through social media. The evolution of influence marketing has become more analytical. It is not merely operational. Companies now target their brands exactly to the segmentation they want. The bottom line is the target audience and engagement.
An example is Fanta, who connected its brand to famous YouTubers, kicking off a series of episodes on a reality show on YouTube. The company brought Caju, Christian Figueiredo, Gusta, Haru, Malena, Poladoful, Pyong Lee and T3ddy. Yes, eight of the most famous YouTubers in Brazil, from different areas. The company’s focus? To increase Fanta’s visibility with young people – and consequently, sales.
This new relationship with social media is a paradigm shift for the advertising market, which has always been used to deal with a specific price list. Traditional ads have lost strength, while such social media as Facebook and Instagram have been increasingly serving as the basis for consumers decision-making. Fewer people are watching TV and Internet users have installed ad blockers. Therefore, the originality and innovation of the brands are main highlights nowadays, in order to increase engagement with your target audience.
And how do they perform? Some companies share content as it should be posted exactly, while others give the influencers freedom to produce spontaneously. The relationship with influencers has changed. In addition to the respect that must be maintained during the negotiation, of course, it’s important to keep the influencer close to the post-closing trade mark.
The more natural and positive the relationship with influencers is, the better for companies. After all, the more authenticity the publications do have, probably the greater engagement they will generate. And that is where brands rub their hands, once this will likely represent increase on sales or greater awareness. It depends on the purpose pursued by the companies.
Planning and execution at VIANEWS
We at VIANEWS Hotwire have the expertise in the relationship with influencers, working currently, for example, for MetroFit. From the negotiation with the influencers up to the moment after the publications on their social media. Based on a more segmented planning, the focus has been on micro influencers from many areas, such as architecture, decoration, fashion and lifestyle.